1. Are our values aligned with God, His Word, and His assignments to us?
2. Are we investing our time, talents, and treasure in a strategic manner consistent with these values?
3. If we are falling short on any of the above, what are we going to do about it?
The remainder of this article attempts to deal with some of the implications related to these issues.
Money is the first investment unit to discuss; it is the "treasure" of the three units, being a product of the expenditure of time and talents. Money represents units of time and ability in foldable form. As your treasure is earned by you or inherited as a result of another's work, it becomes an asset requiring your stewardship in investment. Since time on earth is our most valuable gift because of the possibilities it offers us to serve God, others, and to grow, money must be appropriately honored. It should be invested where it has the potential to increase the effect of God's Kingdom on earth either directly in the present, or for the sake of growth so as to accumulate more power to do so in the future.
Let me make two observations concerning the applications of investing money: 1) It should be invested where we see Father working (John 5:19), and the Holy Spirit so directs us, and 2) it should be released outside of our control (personal control) when our strategic goals for personal use of our money have been met. Earl Pitts, a personal friend and highly insightful brother, has articulated a concept called "closing your circle." The idea is simple; when you have accumulated all the money you have strategically covenanted with God to use wisely for personal growth and sustenance, the rest belongs to investing in God's work. Earl's concepts and seminars are very much worth checking out (www.wealthrichesmoney.org).
Let us now briefly address the issue of where we invest our time, the most critical investment we daily face. Without time, no other resource matters in terms of our earthly effectiveness. We leverage time as the ultimate instrument of our work and vision. Therefore, its strategic investment is of the utmost importance.
Without a clear sense of our mission in life, and the alignment of our time usage to that mission, time is wasted upon us. It is God's gift to be stewarded most wisely. In terms of investing it, here, I believe, is the essential investment list:
1. Investing in our families, beginning with our spouse.
2. Investing in the biblical revelation of truth and mission we have received, and the spiritual relationships of like-minded believers.
3. Investing resources (time and money) in world mission outreach, beyond a tithe to our local church.
4. Investing money (time) in people and projects who manage their resources well in projects or businesses in which we mutually believe.
Time investments, including time in Sabbath rest, vacations, hobbies, and activities which broaden and deepen us, not only count the most but are likewise the most difficult investments to maintain. Everything seems to "demand" we leave them! Were many of the wealthy to concentrate on protecting their time priorities as much as they protect their money priorities, they would be far, far better off. We must all continually keep short accounts with God in terms of how we are investing our time.
Lastly, we come to the issue of how we invest our talents-those gifts, both spiritual and physical-which God holds us accountable to develop. As many of us know, there is more taught by Christ in terms of New Testament parables on investing than on heaven! There is a clue here, brethren.
As parents we should put extra time in helping our children discover their talents and gain a life-long commitment to sow into them. Likewise, as business managers or owners, we should do the same for those we manage or influence. No investment is more important than time spent encouraging people to discover, develop, and be grateful for what their Creator gave them to use and enjoy for their mutual pleasure.
When is the last time you took inventory of your investment in your own gifts for further development? Do it now; when you finish this article, start or re-start a list of them. Then do it with your spouse, children, etc. Investing strategically and prayerfully in the use of our time, talents, and treasure is really our most important investment; everything else is details. I am aware this brief discussion merely skims the surface, but I hope the "surface" I have described will serve you.
By Dennis Peacocke. This article originally appeared in the February 2002 edition of Business Reform Magazine.
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Living on the Third River, by Craig Hill